A south coast hot spot for revellers, Bournemouth, despite it's harsh geriatic reputation, has always boasted a decent nightlife for clubbers and party-goers.

From the Swinging Sixties to present day all night venues, it's fair to say party-seekers choose our picturesque seaside town for its vast choice of night-time venues. 

With a nightly capacity for 35,000 tipplers and more licensed premises per square mile than Soho, the resort has been described as the clubbing capital of the South in the past.

Here's our pick of twelve top venues to jog your memory, from the sixties through to more recent times.

Le Kilt, Bourne Avenue – Bournemouth’s first ever discotheque. It was opened in 1963 by Edna and Jack Ashworth who ran the Swiss Restaurant before going into business with Louis Brown. After Jack died, Edna continued to help run the restaurant and club until closing the doors for good in 1975.

The Ritz – on the site of the BIC - It opened in 1966 and welcomed groups including the Bee Gees, Thin Lizzy, Desmond Decker and Fleetwood Mac in the four years it was open. In 1970 it changed its name to The Hive. 

Bournemouth Echo: HOSTED THE GREATS: The site of the famous venue

Maison Royale and Le Cardinal– Glen Fern Road The super club opened in 1971, soon becoming the hottest spot in town. The concept consisted of the Masion Royale theatre restaurant that seated 700 people, Le Cardinal nightclub which could host 600 and originally had a U-shaped dance-floor, the Roof Top Hotel with its 52 rooms and The Outlook, Bournemouth’s first smart disco restaurant.

Now, controversially, Jimmy Savile was brought in as entertainments and promotion consultant for five years.

Other celebrities at the club included Roy Castle, Rod Hull, Cliff Richard, Vera Lynn, Frankie Howerd and Tony Christie among others, with Dave Lee Travis opening a new roller skating rink in 1981.

However, in August 1983, the Echo reported that Maison Royale was closing.

Bournemouth Echo: PLACE TO BE: The Maison Royale

The Venue, Tower Park, Poole The club opened in 1989 and attracted up to 2,000 clubbers a night. But it closed in 1999 only to reopen again shortly before Christmas 2002, to close again in 2003 with debts of £1.1million.

Bournemouth Echo:

Zoo and Cage and then Elements and then Lave and Ignite Elements was shrouded in controversy after a soldier was shot there in 2001. Radio 1 DJ Trevor Nelson was hosting an MTV Lick party when Glen Hudson was shot in the head, dying later in Poole Hospital.

Bournemouth Echo: MAKEOVER PLAN: Elements nightclub in Bournemouth

On the other side of the coin, the future King of England astonished revellers with his down-to-earth attitude when he arrived unannounced in 2007.

Prince William, who arrived at the venue with a group of army buddies from Bovington spent time dancing on the podium and drinking Stella, leaving only when the club closed at around 3.20am, according to witnesses.

The prince happily posed for mobile phone snaps with several woman revellers during his time at the club, said staff.

Despite being offered the use of the VIP area by managers he opted to stay and mix with the locals.

Bournemouth Echo: Prince William, who is stationed at Bovington Camp, poses for a mobile phone snap with Lisa Agar on a night out at Elements nightclub in Bournemouth.

Prince Williams poses for a snap with Lisa Agar at Elements night club in Bournemouth in 2007

Berlins and later Censo – Bournemouth's Berlins night-club provided the unlikely back-drop where former Tory minister Neil Hamilton and his celebrity wife Christine drank to the axing of their on-screen adversary Angus Deayton in 2002.

Bournemouth Echo:

The couple were booked for a special night at the club in Hinton Road following Mrs Hamilton's stint on the reality show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Christine Hamilton has roots in the area, having grown up in Ringwood and gone to school in Bournemouth and Christchurch.

Bournemouth Echo:

Berlins re-opened as Censo with new owners in 2005.

Slam  Once owned by Richard Carr, the bar hosted Radio 1’s Dreem Team Presents, Hangover Cure show one Sunday morning in 2001.

Bournemouth Echo:

Opera House, Boscombe precinct - Slinky anyone? From the days of visits from Bowie and Led Zep, through the Academy years and the dayglo clubbing at Slinky, a million memories linger. Once owned by Richard Carr, the venue went through a number of owners, before being put on the market in 2005.

Bournemouth Echo:

It was famous for hosting Slinky night, with famous DJs including Paul Van Dyck and Pete Tong appearing at the club. In 2006, major plans to turn the club into a live music venue were announced and opened in 2007, with the venue later renamed the O2 Academy.

Bournemouth Echo:

Jumpin’ Jacks, Imax Opened in 1999 as part of the controversial Waterfront complex.

In 2001 a bar manager was left badly burned after taking part in a Sambuca challenge during a night out.

Bournemouth Echo: CEASED TRADING: Jumpin Jaks in Bournemouth

The bar welcomed Big Brother stars during its hey day including winner Brian Belo.

Bournemouth Echo:  Twin grip  Brian Belo gets close to twins Sam and Amanda Marchant at Jumpin Jaks

Sadly, the bar succumbed to the credit crunch curse and ceased trading in 2009.

Bar Med A nightlife staple for drinkers in the town, Bar Med closed in 2008 along with Label on Old Christchurch. The smoking ban was blamed for the closures.

Bournemouth Echo: CLOSING: Bar Med on St Peter's Road, Bournemouth

Bliss More Royal approval for one of Bournemouth’s clubs when just two weeks after visiting Elements in 2007, Prince William spent the night in Bliss.

Bournemouth Echo: Bliss and Chilli White bars close in Bournemouth

 Toko Originally owned by Richard Carr, Toko was sold to Yellowhammer Bars in 2008 when Carr’s Future 3000 company went into administration.

The fish in the tanks at Toko were moved to Brighton Sea Life Centre in 2010. But because they were so used to the pounding music, the fish were played an hour of chart-busters during their two-week spell in quarantine.

Bournemouth Echo: SOLD ON: Toko

Other favourites in Bournemouth and elsewhere

  • Bumbles, formerly Samantha’s night club formerly 45 Club, Poole Hill, Bournemouth
  • Voodoo Lounge, Gervis Road
  • The Manor, Matchams
  • The Villa, Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, used to be the Hothouse
  • Jazz Juice at The Showbar, Bournemouth Pier
  • Route 42, Ringwood
  • Maison, Show Bar, Bournemouth Pier
  • The Bure Club
  • Fifth Avenue
  • Whiskeys
  • Manhattan's then Dusk til Dawn (also previously Millenium)
  • Chablis
  • Alcatraz
  • Madisons 
  • Highlander
  • Sinatras, Christchurch
  • Zig Zags
  • Kiss
  • The Village, Glen Fern Road
  • Cromwells, Boscombe
  • Winstons, Poole Road
  • Redz bar
  • Platinum
  • K Bar
  • Jackio's, then named Glasshoppers. In the 60s it was previously known as the 101 club, Adriano's
  • Remix
  • Viking Club, Poole Quay
  • Georgian Club, Poole
  • Harlequins, Westover Road
  • Poets Corner, Westover Road
  • Eleven Elevens, attached to the hotel opposite the BIC)
  • The Criterion & Mackorbers, Old Christchurch Road, near McDonald’s
  • Benedicts, attached to The Academy in Boscombe
  • The Calypso, Old Christchurch Road
  • Zonkers, Holdenhurst Road
  • The 81 club
  • Hell (later renamed Le Enfer)
  • The Third Side, The Triangle
  • Oscars at The Royal Exter Hotel
  • The Silver club on Poole Hill
  • Clouds, Glen Fern Road
  • The Street
  • Cellar Club in Poole (now the Blue Boar)
  • Ossemsley Manor, north off the A35 at Hinton
  • Dancing at the Sandacres Hotel at Sandbanks
  • Whiskers, previously called La Bastille
  • Le disque a go go formerly the Downstairs Jazz club at the Lansdowne around about 1964
  • The Pavilion on Sunday nights
  • Liquids
  • Micawbers
  • Mariners Wharf, Poole
  • Latours, formerly Charlies
  • Georgian Club then called Thirstys in 80s Poole
  • Urban
  • Sammys above Fludes the wallpaper shop in the Triangle. Above what is now Tesco Express.
  • The Palace Vaults, Westover Road
  • Longs bar which had a disco in the basement where Riley's bar is now opposite the Burlington Arcade
  • Papas
  • Spats Wine Bar, Land owners
  • The Outlook, Glen Fern Road
  • The Rolabowl Disco, Glen Fern Road
  • Galaxy, under 18s nightclub back of where the cinemas are on Westover Road
  • Roxy's, Boscombe
  • La Hores, Poole

Let us know where you used to frequent if it's not on the list - email digital@bournemouthecho.co.uk or tweet @bournemouthecho